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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Single Malt Report: Tomatin 14 year old Port Casks (2016)

I purchased these two well-filled minis when I was at the distillery.  My visit was on July 10th, they were bottled on June 8th.  That's some fresh stuff.  The minis show off Tomatin's new bottle design, which we should see here in the US later this year.  I didn't think anything was wrong with the recent conservative design, but luckily they don't go for much flair with the new style.

Though I haven't reviewed Tomatin's 12 and 18 year olds yet, I enjoy them both, though I used to be more enthusiastic about them at their earlier prices.  The 18 year old was easily found in the $50-$60 range not too long ago, but has seen a price bump (USA average) of 30% over the past two years.  If you can still find it for less than $70, it's now a bargain for an 18 year old single malt.  The 12 year old can still be found for $35, but its $25 days are over.  As a starter whisky, it's a leap better than Glenlivet 12 and it still has an age statement, so I guess $35 is acceptable in this marketplace.   ANYWAY, I'm not reviewing either of those whiskies today.

Instead I'm reviewing Tomatin's 14 year old "Port Casks".  Those port casks "held port for around 50 years" according to the website, a blurb you can take seriously or not.  The important part for us drinkers: those same casks held this whisky for one whole year.  So, yes, it's a finish, not a full nor secondary maturation.  Tomatin's core spirit is very good and very fruity, AND they bottle this thing at 46%abv, so I am optimistic.

Distillery: Tomatin
Ownership: Tomatin Distillery Co.
Region: Highlands (near Inverness)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: minimum 14 years
Maturation: at least 13 years in ex-bourbon casks, then a final year in port casks
Bottling code: L08 06 16
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colored? Possibly not?

Its color is a peachy gold.  The nose starts out big and stinky, a bit cheesy actually.  Lots of port.  Leather, Chambord, and cherries.  After 10 minutes in the glass, the whisky gets brighter, fruitier, almost floral.  A big note of orange soda appears.  Some ethyl heat and milk chocolate start off the palate.  A peppery, almost smoky, sulphur note rests in the midground.  Plenty of port, but also a tart white wine.  Super sour grapefruits and tart blackberries.  It finishes hot and simply.  Rubbery sulphur, hints of dark berries and black pepper.  A maple syrup note in the far background.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
It gets cloudy as soon as the water hits.  The nose goes silent at first.  After five minutes, it floats back up as plastic toys, plum sauce, and honey mustard.  The palate improves.  The sulphur softens.  There's more (and better) citrus.  Hints of caramel sauce and cayenne pepper.  A berry candy (or raspberry syrup) note appears and expands.  It finishes with the raspberries, honey, and a hint of dark chocolate.

My optimism was foolish.  The end.

Okay, maybe a few more words.

Much better than the hackneyed Talisker Port Ruighe and glum Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, Tomatin's port cask finished single malt desperately requires water.  The mouth coalesces and grows richer when dropped to 40%abv.  Though the nose never feels like one piece, no matter what, firing off in multiple clashing directions, reminiscent of many things Glenmorangie.  I actually added more water when drinking it casually, dropping it to around 30%abv, and that may have improved it further, so perhaps that's the key.

But this proves to be the first Tomatin I cannot recommend.  Its broad price range averages out somewhere north of $70.  At that rate, I'd say go with the 18 instead, or two bottles of the 12.  Or maybe tomorrow's whisky......?

Availability - A few dozen US retailers, many more in Europe
Pricing - $50-$85 (USA and Europe)
Rating - 79 (with water only)

1 comment:

  1. The new bottle Tomatin 12 is on sale at $29.99 at my local BevMo.